Do you ever feel like you are having never-ending interviews without a hire? Or, perhaps you find a good candidate in the first interview and wonder if you need to interview more? So, what is an optimal number of interviews to know you are hiring the best? The simple answer is – as many as it takes!
As a recruiting firm, we often see our clients struggling to know when to pull the trigger on a candidate or when to change course on a search. The challenge typically comes down to one of three questions:
- Do they have clear expectations on the requirements?
- Are they seeing targeted candidates in line with expectations?
- Do they have confidence in their selection process to pick the best candidate?
If you struggle with similar questions, read on to learn how to address them in your own sales recruiting process.
SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS ON THE REQUIREMENTS
There are lots of candidates that will be interested in your open position, but there are much fewer that will meet your needs. Don’t just grab a standard job description from the internet and post the position on job boards or LinkedIn. Instead, create a highly specific job description that will attract top candidates matching your ideal sales rep.
For example, what type of sales methodology will they need to use for prospecting and what type of selling experience do they need – strategic vs commodity? Also, what level of quota have they carried in the past and have they met plan? And finally, describe the characteristics of people who fit well in your culture.
All of these expectations can be addressed early in the job description or in preliminary phone interviews. The more clear you are about expectations, the quicker you can decide whether or not a sales rep is a good match for your opening.
STRATEGICALLY TARGET TOP CANDIDATES
If you could target top performing sales reps that meet your requirements and reach out to them directly, would that increase the confidence in your hiring? That task is easier said than done!
If you’re only interviewing applicants from job boards then you’re going to be overwhelmed by plenty of unqualified sales resumes. Oftentimes, only interviewing job applicants will result in wasted time with less-than-ideal interviews.
On the other hand, if you’re only targeting candidates from industry competitors in very specific markets, you’re narrowing the talent pool too much. You’ll only have a small number of candidates you can interview and fewer that will be in line with your expectations.
Instead, spend the time to identify parallel industries that have similar clientele or sales processes to help you find quality candidates to interview. The key is to find sources that have a high likelihood of matching requirements – industries, clients, etc. Use LinkedIN, specialized job boards, or even external sales recruiting experts to build a highly targeted candidate pool with enough options to find a candidate who fits your requirements and culture fit.
By being more targeted in your search and reaching out to top performers, you don’t have to hesitate when extending an offer to a sales candidate. You know there’s not a better option out there because you’ve targeted candidates with the best chance of success.
USE AN EFFECTIVE INTERVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS
Interviewing effectively is another way make sure you’ve optimized the number of candidates.
Once you’ve clearly identified the expectations for your open sales job, you can then evaluate candidates against these specific requirements. You should enlist the help of your team to make sure each requirement is being considered and to get a broader, unbiased perspective of the candidate.
For example, assign each interviewer a different requirement – culture fit, prospecting, methodology – and have them ask interview questions specific to these requirements. Their questions should also be open ended so they can probe the response and look for behavioral examples
Afterward, you and your team should have a discussion about what you saw in the interviews. Whether it’s the first interview or the twentieth, you should assess candidates against the following:
- Does the candidate’s experience meet we are looking for? (Warning: Under no circumstance take a job hopper! If they have multiple stints under 1-2 years in sales, don’t consider them. It’s amazing how many companies hire serial job hoppers and have to rehire a year later after the candidate leaves or is fired.)
- Did the candidate come from the right sources – namely targeted industries or companies with a similar sales environment?
- Based on interviews, does the team have a consensus that the person meets the criteria? If so, go for it. If there’s not a 100% consensus, the hiring manager can overrule. The candidate doesn’t need to have ALL requirements, but they should meet most. However, if you have trusted team members raising red flags – you should heed it – or at least bring the candidate back in and probe the area in more depth.
If you’re still unsure whether you’ve interviewed the right number of candidates, there are general guidelines you can use: Phone interviews of 10-20 candidates that match the requirements on paper with HR, a recruiter, or the hiring manager, with 4-5 moved to in-person interviews with the full team.
With a highly targeted strategic search, or by using a skilled recruiter, you can dramatically reduce the number of interviews that you must complete and you can be confident you’re hiring the best candidate possible.
If you need want to learn more about how using a skilled recruiter can help you find top candidates, check out this case study from one of our satisfied clients. They used our services because they want to find candidates outside their normal talent pool, but didn’t have the network to do so and also wanted to make sure they were able to interview the best candidates out there.
What is your biggest challenge hiring star sales reps? Locking down your needs, finding targeted candidates, or interviewing and selection skills? We’d love to hear from you!